Does the agency of labour matter for our understanding of change in modern Iran? This is the key question addressed by two interrelated panels, the first of which investigates trends in history and historiography, while the second focuses on case studies.
The flourishing of labour studies after WW2 had a great impact on social history and critical social sciences. By placing the working life of ordinary people at the centre of scholarly investigation, labour studies introduced radical new perspectives into the analysis of social, political, economic, and cultural change. After experiencing some decline in 1970s and 1980s, in the last twenty years labour and subaltern studies has gone through a modest revival, going beyond Europe and US and being truly globalized, expanding into Latin America, Africa and Asia. In the Middle East, labour has become increasingly more present in the historiography of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey and Egypt.
In this first panel, the panellists evaluate the trends in both the history and the historiography of labour and labouring poor in Iran. They seek to answer if the agency of labour and subaltern matter in historiography, and if so, why it has been largely missing in the contemporary major metanarratives of macrohistories of Iran? The panellists will focus on theoretical and methodological obstacles, the relationship of labour with gender, ethnicity, culture, economy and politics, and the ways in which the study of labour has furthered our understanding of historical and contemporary developments in Iran. The panellists will also suggest theoretical and historiographical approaches that can help to further labour studies in Iran.